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J Biochem. 2000 Sep;128(3):517-28.

Transcriptional regulation of the human FTZ-F1 gene encoding Ad4BP/SF-1.

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The Third Department of Internal Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, Kyushu University, Maidashi Higashi-ku, Fukuoka 812-8582, Japan.


Ad4BP, also known as SF-1, is a steroidogenic tissue-specific transcription factor that is also essential for adrenal and gonadal development. Two mechanisms for the transcriptional regulation of the mammalian FTZ-F1 gene encoding Ad4BP in adrenocortical cells have been proposed in the previous studies: the crucial role of a cis-element, an E box for the steroidogenic cell-specific expression of mouse and rat FTZ-F1 genes, and a possible autoregulatory mechanism of the rFTZ-F1 gene by Ad4BP itself through binding to the Ad4 (or SF-1) site in the first intron. In the present study, the transcriptional regulation of the human FTZ-F1 gene in adrenocortical cells was investigated from several angles, including the above two mechanisms. Using a series of deletion analyses of the 5'-flanking region of the hFTZ-F1 gene and site-directed mutagenesis for transient transfection studies, an E box element, CACGTG at -87/-82 from the transcriptional start site, was also found to be essential for the transcription of the hFTZ-F1 gene in mouse or human adrenocortical cell lines as well as in non-steroidogenic CV-1 cells. Despite the presence of a corresponding Ad4 site, CCAAGGCC at +163/+156 in the first intron of the hFTZ-F1 gene, an autoregulatory mechanism through the Ad4 site was found to be unlikely in the hFTZ-F1 gene mainly due to site-directed mutagenesis. In addition, the forced expression of Ad4BP had little effect on hFTZ-F1 gene transcription in non-steroidogenic CV-1 cells. Such Ad4BP-independent regulation of the hFTZ-F1 gene was in striking contrast to the regulation of steroidogenic CYP genes, such as the human CYP11A gene, in which the proximal promoter activity is Ad4BP-dependent and the transactivation by Ad4BP is silenced by DAX-1. Even though the Ad4BP-dependent transcriptional regulation of the DAX-1 gene has been reported, DAX-1 did not affect the transcriptional activity of the hFTZ-F1 gene in our study. Taken together, these observations suggest that the E box is indeed required for the expression of the FTZ-F1 gene, at least in mammalian species, but may not determine the tissue-specific expression of the hFTZ-F1 gene, and that, unlike the steroidogenic CYP gene, the regulation of the hFTZ-F1 gene appears to be independent of both Ad4BP and DAX-1.

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